The Windhover,” Gerard Manley Hopkins 3 pages double space

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“The Windhover,” Gerard Manley Hopkins

Poetry Explication DUE: Friday, September 25 by 5 p.m. (on MOLE)

An explication takes what is implicit or subtle in a text and makes it explicit and clear. However, an explication is not a mere summary of what the poem says; you need to explicate the poem’s meaning. Remember, meaning is the “Why” of a text; the author’s opinion about the text’s themes or ideas; what the text is trying to communicate to us, its readers.

Select one of the poems we’ve read from those listed below and write a 3-4 page essay in which you create and support a unique argument (thesis) about that poem’s meaning.

  1. Your introductory paragraph will 1) clearly name the poem and poet to be discussed, 2) provide the focus and structure of your paper, and 3) clearly provide your thesis statement, in which you present your argument on the poem’s meaning and answer the “so what?” by discussing the significance of your interpretation.

  2. Eachofyourbodyparagraphswillproveyourargument/thesisbyprovidingdetailedevidence (quotations from the poem) that support your meaning. Every body paragraphs should relate back to your thesis.

  3. Inyourbody/evidenceparagraphs,youshouldtrytoidentify2-3specificliterarydevicesthatprove your thesis. According to the attached “Writing About Poetry” handout, “good explications go line by line [or stanza by stanza], picking out every detail in the poem that supports your argument.” 


  • Be too general with your evidence—you need SPECIFIC examples to back-up your thesis. For example, don’t just say the poem uses diction. All poems use diction. SHOW me—with quotes—what kind of diction the poet uses and why these word choices support your argument.

  • Simply translate or restate the poem—you need to think about how and why the poem creates meaning, not just what it says.

  • Assume that your quotations will prove your point without explanation—you need to explain WHY your quotes are important.

  • Rely on the poet’s biography to create an interpretation of the poem—you should analyze only what the POEM ITSELF tells you.

  • Restate ideas mentioned in class or readily available online. I want to see your ideas and fresh, unique meanings; I don’t want to see my own ideas (or ideas from strangers on the Internet) regurgitated back to me.

  • Use secondary sources. The poem should be the only source on your Works Cited page.

• Use MLA format for your paper, including a Works Cited page and in-text parenthetical citations (citing line or stanza number).

• Use the present tense (the “literary present”) to discuss the poem.

• Use backslashes to indicate line breaks in your quotations (e.g., “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, / And Mourners to and fro”).

• Put poem titles in quotations (poem and short story titles go in quotations while titles of whole books should be in italics).

• Give your paper a title.• Go to the Writing Center for additional

feedback on analyzing your poem and/or

writing your paper.• Visit my office hours to discuss the poem

one-on-one and talk about possible theses.

In grading your papers, I will be looking for:

  1. aclearlydefined,unique,andwell-arguedthesis;

  2. well-chosen,specificquotationsfromthepoemusedtoprovethatthesis;

  3. theaccurateidentificationanddiscussionofatleast2-3literarydevices;

  4. clarityofwriting(i.e.,yourwritingpresentsyourideasinaCLEARandCONCISEway,andthatany

    grammatical errors do not hinder your meaning);

  5. MLAformat,includingaWorksCitedpageandin-textcitations(seetheMLAStyleGuideonMoodle

    for help with this). 

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(Top Tutor) Daniel C.
School: Rice University
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